Segarini: Award Shows, Van Gogh, the Day I Was Born, and Some Birthdays
A Message from Bob –Yet another rerun, but this one has been heavily updated. The reason I am having trouble writing new ones, stems back to December 15th when many of us lost an old friend and good man, Dave Bailey. The tentative date for the Celebration of Dave’s life is Sunday May 14th. The Carpet Frogs (who are also Burton Cummings touring band) are the house band for the event, which will feature other artists that Dave worked with in the past. The date may change a week in either direction, and as details are finalized, I will be updating the information. …and now…on with the show…or your shoes, whichever you prefer. ..and put on some pants.
A Reader Writes: Regarding your blog of September 9th, 2014 Mr. Segarini. Except for mentioning Saturday Night Live and Amazing Race, you said nothing about the shows that were nominated for an Emmy at this year’s event, nor who won or who lost. Further, you made no mention of any of the nominees, actors, actresses, or even the names of the shows. Most disturbing of all, you failed to write one single word about the great Robin Williams.
What do you have to say for yourself?
Billy in Banff
Dear Billy, Not much, really…
…but I will say this….
Very little of what entertains me is ever mentioned on The Emmys, The Oscars, The Grammys, or any other mainstream awards show. Occasionally The Golden Globes will do something interesting, like throw a drunk journalist out for throwing up on Harrison Ford’s Florsheims, (who, by the way, make a terrific shoe), but still, all in all, the who and what and why of these awards shows usually blows. Let’s not even mention The Tonys. My Granddaughter does better Jazz Hands.
My Granddaughter’s Jazz Hands
These awards shows are popularity contests and have very little to do with innovation, creativity, or talent. I am not saying that there isn’t any of those things, but they do not come into play in the selection of the nominees or the winners. In other words, winning any one of these things means very little. The only 2 reasons anybody wants one are 1. Ego, and 2. Added income to the person or the show’s coffers. I can’t think of any others.
Entertainment, like all art, is whatever you can get away with. Time will decide what is great and what isn’t.
Take All in the Family and it’s creative head, Norman Lear. ..please.
See what I did there?
Time does decide what is great and what isn’t. FACT!
Take the case of Vinnie Van Gogh. Poor bastard couldn’t sell a painting when he was alive (he sold one, actually, for a pair of wooden shoes), but 125 years later, Boy Howdy, the man is a legend.
Granted, his earlier work was pretty dour. Gloomy, in fact, and indicative of his never successfully diagnosed but clearly present mental problems.
Van Gogh’s Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette
Vinnie’s sister-in-law kept all his paintings and letters after he shot himself to death, and beat the bushes for a decade before she sold one of his paintings. Because of her…one person…Van Gogh’s legacy was not only preserved, he went on to become one of the most revered artists in history.
Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet
One of his paintings, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, sold for the current equivalent of 138.4 million dollars in 1990, and many more have been sold (since 1987) for obscene amounts of money.
So was he great even back when he was alive? Does his eventual financial success and popularity validate his greatness, or vindicate him? Does any of this matter to a guy who has been fertilizer for 125 years?
Probably not…but it does prove two things.
Popularity makes people rich.
Celebrity gives you attention.
…but neither one makes you great.
You either are or you are not.
It only takes ONE person who believes in you to make a difference.
Van Gogh’s Sister-in-Law Johanna Bonger
Before we move on, here are some fun facts about the man:
Vincent shot himself in a wheatfield in Auvers, France but did not die until 2 days later at the age of 37.
Vincent’s brother Theo died six months after Vincent and is buried next to him in Auvers, France.
Vincent’s brother’s wife collected Vincent’s paintings and letters after his death and dedicated herself to getting his work the recognition it deserved.
In a short period of ten years Van Gogh made approximately 900 paintings.
Vincent only sold one painting during his lifetime and only became famous after his death.
Vincent van Gogh did not cut off his ear. He only cut off a small portion of his ear lobe.
Van Gogh’s The Starry Night
Van Gogh created his most famous work The Starry Night while staying in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France.
Vincent’s earliest career aspiration was to be a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church like his father.
Van Gogh wrote over 800 letters in his lifetime. The majority of them written to his brother and closest friend Theo.
I Hear it’s My Birthday….
We all have these things.
A celebration of life that has always puzzled me.
We did nothing to deserve cake and presents, yet every 12 months we get a kind of celebration that is usually reserved for returning astronauts and victorious quarterbacks.
That’s what we did.
It is to the Doctor’s credit that he does not throw us to an attending nurse for the easy out.
As I get older, I wonder if my body of work is going to lay around like Vinnie’s, unheralded untiI after I am long gone, only to be championed by some person who I owed money to and is too stubborn to give up on the debt. It would really piss me off to get rich and not be able to buy a flying car or personal jet-pack or holographic 4D Sense-o-Rama All Encompassing Virtual Reality Fun-a-Torium because I was on the wrong side of the lawn.
Regardless, this rather depressing thought always creeps into my craw twice a year.
Once at Christmas/New Year’s
….and once on my Birthday.
There was a time when I enjoyed my birthday, there were times when I did not, and lately, for the past decade or so, I have come to enjoy them again. The reason is pretty simple; I like cake. I have great family. I have great friends.
On Being Born….
As good as my memory is, I do not remember any of this.
I was there, to be sure, but was probably too busy trying to figure out why it suddenly got cold and who turned on the lights to care about anything else.
I was born in San Francisco, that much I know. Born to a family with the last name Botto and promptly kicked to the curb (the ‘curb’ in this case being a Nun-run placement centre for unwanted babies) if you can imagine such a thing. After the humiliating experience of having your tires kicked and being left on the lot, you are handed off to God’s penguins and put up for adoption. Apparently, Nun Husbands, (all named Jesus) don’t mind babies, but want them out of the house as soon as possible.
Raymond Becomes Robert….
This is San Francisco on August 28th, 1945. The Day I Was Born
So for 6 months, Raymond Botto was in the care of a flock of Nuns in San Francisco, who no doubt spent most of their time cooing and dangling the keys to the chapel in my face and talking to me like I was a baby. The rest of the time they were surely investing in me the fear of God and a heaping serving of Catholic Guilt. If you think Jewish Guilt is heavy, try beating yourself up over having a hamburger on a Friday in 1955 instead of fish sticks…you never heard the end of it.
Almost 6 months to the day after I was tossed to the doctor for a strike and the out, February 26th, 1945, I was picked out of the display case by a couple whose desire for children was much healthier than the folks who conceived me, and Raymond Botto became Robert Joseph Segarini. Just like that. I have very little information beyond that, so I stumble through life wondering if I got the undercoating of rust protection, an extended warranty, or premium seat covers. They just filled out some forms, passed a test or two, signed here and initialed there, and VIOLA!…I am in the front seat of a 1938 Chevy Sedan in my adopted Mother’s arms on my way over the Altamont to Stockton, California.
I have 2 Birthdays…August 28th, and this one, February 26th. The latter is my favourite…because only my Mom and Dad ever celebrated it with me. No pressure…just love.
The First Birthday – New in Town…Poor Turnout
Some Memorable Birthdays….
I turned 4 when this picture was taken. I was on my way to dance at the San Joaquin County Fair with 19 other Fred Astairelets and Ginger Rogersettes.
We were always told we looked like tiny adorable angels when we occasionally wore our little white tap outfits…but judging from this picture, we probably looked more like a flock of midget milkmen and nurses
Our big number was tapped to the strains of “Shine On Harvest Moon” (For me and My Gal). We always killed. A herd of 2 to 5 year olds forced to dress like junior insurance salesmen and Ladies Who Lunch, are a sure bet when it comes to entertaining a crowd at a County Fair or a Rotary Club Waffle Breakfast.
I, of course, got the feature….
My Mother drove a friend of mine and I to Southern California for my 10th birthday to see the sights and go to a brand new attraction.
Uncle Walt Points at His Land
Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955, and we were there a month later for a week.
Did I mention I was a spoiled little kid?
Although Disneyland was a highlight, 2 other things that happened on that trip still stick in my head like gum in your hair.
When we first arrived down South, Mom drove down Hollywood Blvd. (more for her than us, I think) and stopped at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Mom found a place to park directly across the street from the Theatre. We were hustled to the front of the place to look at all the movie star’s hand and footprints captured in cement that graced the courtyard.
Clark Gable Had Big Shoes
Mom had always had a thing for Clark Gable and Cary Grant. I used to hear her and my Grandmother talk about which one they wouldn’t mind “parking their shoes under my bed” at one time or another. I had always thought that was weird until the sun came up and I understood what it meant. I wasn’t always as quick as I am now….
Anyway, there was a big hub-bub around a roped (dark red and velvet) off part of the courtyard, and being curious (and small for my age), I snuck through a forest of legs to see what it was all about. There, standing before me and radiating light, was a woman so beautiful I could do nothing but stare, open mouthed and eyes wide open…a tableaux of soon-to-be hormonal confusion and forever obsessed. She noticed me and came over to where I was busy gaping and about to drool on my nice clean shirt. When she spoke, her voice went right through me. Soft, angelic, and tinged with an accent I recognized. She reached down, ruffled my hair, and kissed me on the cheek. Then, after answering a few more questions from the flock of journalists surrounding her, turned back to the business at hand, doing exactly what we were doing…looking at the movie stars’ hand and footprints.
I got a kiss from Sophia Loren.
Seven years later, in 1962, she would be back to add hers.
On the way down Hollywood Blvd to see some more sights and get back on the road to Anaheim and the brand new Magic Kingdom, we drove past the Pantages Theater. There was a giant Ant on top of the marquee and a single word in a shocking very large font that simply said “THEM!” That got my attention, but not just because I wanted Mom to pull over so we could go see it (who doesn’t want to see giant ants when they’re turning 10?) but because, on the end of the marquee it said “Uncanny!”, just that one word, “Uncanny”. I had never seen or heard that word before. I loved that word from the moment I saw it. After I found out what it meant, it was , “Gosh Mom, that was some uncanny dinner!”, and “Wow Whitey, that’s an uncanny bicycle!”
It was Uncanny! …and Completely Ruined the Picnic
Bob at 12
My 12th Birthday brought my first guitar, a gift from my Uncle Elbert, himself, a fairly well known banjo player and band leader. It was a Student Prince acoustic guitar, from which I removed the top 2 strings so I could play it like a ukulele. I could play the ukulele, but the extra 2 strings were intimidating. Finally got a chord book and put the E and A strings back on about a year later.
The guitar, of course, has led to nothing but trouble….
There were a lot of years I avoided my birthday like the plague . Mainly, I didn’t like the fuss or the tip-toeing around if I smelled an unwanted “surprise” party waiting to pounce on me, but back in the mid ’70s, my wife Cheryl, and Richie and Claire Henman surprised me in Montreal on Marcil Street and brought me around for a while. It was a great party with great friends and back when my liver was still all pink, or at least partially pink, and I could still stay upright when I danced.
After that, it kind of lost its cachet again until another great one in 1978 or 9 at the little house on Armadale Avenue in Toronto.
There followed many years of simply disappearing for three or four days for my birthday with just one friend (usually Glenn…Hi Glenn), a pocket full of cash, and a bunch of drugs. It was a dark time in my universe, and getting older became a trial not a joy. I had put myself on a slippery slope and was basically running from (or to) the Devil.
In the past decade or so my Birthday has once again taken on a happier skew. Good friends, a more sure-footed view of getting older (It Beats the Snot Out of the Alternative!) and a slowed down and more conscientious drinking program, (I no longer wake up in jail with a black eye and married to a hooker), has led me to embrace the moment like I used to.
Bob at Cherry’s with Cherish and Cake Birthday 2013
Most of the parties have been at Cherry Cola’s the last 5 years, and having a place as warm and inviting, crazy and comfortable as Cherry’s, has led to some pretty hot nights of bacchanalian reverie and first class music. This year’s was no exception. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate me doing next to nothing so many years ago….
Here are just a few of Barry Roden’s fantastic photographs.
Photos by Barry Roden….
Jasper, his friend, Cleave Anderson, Bob and Peter Kashur 2014
Bob Michelle and Andrew Krystal 2014
Michael Tomasek and David “Rico” Rourke
Dave Barker and Perry Goldberg
Ruslan Jade Bob
Michael “Zontar” MacKenzie and Michelle Krystal
Peter and Lois
JC Sandoval Secret Broadcast Michelle Krystal
Lord and Lady Rockington with Rico
Ruslan on stage
The Original Kid Rock
Michelle and Catherine
Courage My Love manager Nicole Hughes
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Segarini’s regular column appears here every time you go away, you take a piece of him with you
Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.